Master Instructor Natashia Iacovelli takes a look at the essence of Spinning® and how the program is far more than just a ride.
I’ve recently found a new love. It has nearly nothing to do with Spinning®, but it reaffirmed what I love about the program.
As of 2015, I started yoga. I promised myself to practice for the first 30 days of the new year, and I’ve practiced just about daily ever since.
What does this have to do with Spinning? Other than the obvious benefits to the body, mind and spirit, it has re-confirmed for me how crucial the spirit of the Spinning program is in the practical delivery.
I love the asana and physical practice of yoga. How the body slowly – over the course of hours, weeks and months – can transform from being stiff and rigid to being able to hold poses and shapes that once seemed impossible. Similarly, when folks take their first Spinning class, they typically struggle through one Standing Climb, let alone a series of them. Yet come back three months later after committing time on the bike and working consistently with intensity and resistance, they glide through the simulated mountain terrain as if they were in the Tour de France!
But there is so much more to just the physical practice of yoga and the excitement of a Spinning class. One without the other just doesn’t do either justice. If it’s too much spirit and not enough physical exertion, then it leaves the body just feeling depleted. But if the body is solely targeted and we neglect the heart, soul and spirit, then we miss out on one of the essential elements of both yoga and Spinning.
From the creation of the Spinning program by founders Johnny G and John Baudhuin, their passion and drive as athletes gave our program the unique richness of a fitness genre that was more than just an asana on the bike. Spinning was hot, new and different, not only because of the great athletic workout accessible to all, but also because it was one of the first fitness programs to have a spirit and a soul.
Sadly, over the years, this spirit and soul has been diluted or misinterpreted or simply forgotten by other indoor cycling programs that put too much focus on the physical. But it’s not too late to remember it and remind students of its importance.
So how do we reinvigorate this spirit into our classes. Of course, always maintain the physical practice – push the hills and race the flats. Just be sure that you don’t leave out the purpose. Allow your class to be clear with the intention, the connection behind the action and give yourself the chance to make it about more than just the 45 minutes on the bike.
Support your students in connecting or perhaps even reconnecting with their spirit on the bike. Encourage them with your words to go even further inside themselves and work harder than they ever thought possible. Learn more about who they are, where they want to be, and what they want to become. Mention your personal life experiences and how they translate to the road and the bike.
This is something I’ve witnessed or experienced at WSSC, but sometimes struggle to articulate it in my own classes. Or maybe it feels a little corny to ask about feelings, fears, struggles and joys on the bike. But let’s all be brave, because often you never know how positively you can affect people, especially when you go beyond the surface level and tap into the soul and spirit.
Dig deeper, find your own spirit and soul, and share it with your riders. Read poetry, find a verse from a song or tell a story. Connect to the bike as if it were life itself, and let’s all put the spirit of Spinning back into our classes where it belongs.
For those who have always taught this way, then perhaps this may be a small nudge to push you outside of your comfort zone and explore new and different ways of cultivating soul and spirit on the bike.
Have fun, explore, seek, delve and play! Because truly the most important thing as Spinning instructors is that we create a positive space where people enjoy their fitness and keep coming back for more so that they see healthy and positive impact on their lives.
So if we have this amazing potential to effect people, then why shouldn’t we aim for more than just the physical? A Spinning class taught in its purest form has a spirit and a soul in addition to the physical ride. One without the other just isn’t Spinning.